How Wal-Mart plans to lure shoppers back to stores
The company recently cut guidance for 2015, saying that it expects growth of 2-3% compared with previous estimates of 3-5%.
"There is no excuse for us not to be doing better," Wal-Mart Stores CEO Doug McMillon said during the company's annual meeting with investors in October. "We recognize our situation has changed and we're responding accordingly."In addition to investing more in its online business, Wal-Mart is also planning to make some changes in its stores.
"Every store I go into has room to improve," McMillon said.
McMillon and Wal-Mart US CEO Greg Foran outlined three main strategies for improving the business in their presentation.
1. Improve the customer experience.
McMillon cited empty shelves and slow checkout lines as two major problems impacting customers at under-performing stores. To fix these problems, the company is working on improving its inventory efficiency and it's planning to open more checkout lines then ever before during peak shopping hours through the holiday season.
The company also says it will improve its staffing levels and start observing how associates interact with customers through a "secret shopper" program.
2. Beat competitors on price.Wal-Mart rolled out a new app last year called Savings Catcher, which helps shoppers compare prices on merchandise and then pays them the cost differences on a gift card. About half of the receipts that the app has processed so far have qualified for a refund because it found lower prices at different stores.
"We cannot let our competition beat us on price," Foran said.
3. Expand the product assortment.
"Today, our customers want more choices, more items, more assortment," McMillon said. At the same time, the company will focus on curating products so customers aren't overwhelmed by the new choices.